Verse 3. Surely I will not come into the tabernacle of my house, nor go up into my bed. Our translators give the meaning, though not the literal form, of David's vow, which ran thus, "If I go" -- "If I go up", etc. This was an elliptical form of imprecation, implying more than it expressed, and having therefore about it a mystery which made it all the more solemn. David would not take his ease in his house, nor his rest in his bed, till he had determined upon a place for the worship of Jehovah. The ark had been neglected, the Tabernacle had fallen into disrespect; he would find the ark, and build for it a suitable house; he felt that he could not take pleasure in his own palace till this was done. David meant well, but he spake more than he could carry out. His language was hyperbolical, and the Lord knew what he meant: zeal does not always measure its terms, for it is not thoughtful of the criticisms of men, but is carried away with love to the Lord, who reads the hearts of his people. David would not think himself housed till he had built a house for the Lord, nor would he reckon himself rested till he had said, "Arise, O Lord, into thy rest." Alas, we have many around us who will never carry their care for the Lord's worship too far! No fear of their being indiscreet? They are housed and bedded, and as for the Lord, his people may meet in a barn, or never meet at all, it will be all the same to them. Observe that Jacob in his vow spoke of the stone being God's house, and David's vow also deals with a house for God.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 3. Surely I will not come into the tabernacle of my house, etc. To avoid the absurdity of thinking that David should make such a rash and unwarrantable vow as this might seem to be, that till he had his desire satisfied in that which is afterwards expressed he would abide in the open air, and never go within his doors, nor ever take any rest, either by day or by night, some say that David spake this with reference to his purpose of taking the fort of Zion from the Jebusites ( 2 Samuel 5:6 ), where by revelation he knew that God meant to have the ark settled, and which he might probably think would be accomplished within some short time. And then others again say, that he meant it only of that stately cedar house, which he had lately built for himself at Jerusalem ( 2 Samuel 7:1-2 ), to wit, that he would not go into that house; and so also that he would not go up unto his bed, nor ( Psalms 132:4 ) give any sleep to his eyes, nor slumber to his eyelids, to wit, in that house. But neither of these expositions gives me any satisfaction. I rather take these to be hyperbolical expressions of the continual, exceeding great care wherewith he was perplexed about providing a settled place for the ark to rest in, like that in Proverbs 6:4-5 : "Give not sleep to thine eyes, nor slumber to thine eyelids; deliver thyself as a roe from the hand of the hunter", etc. Neither is it any more in effect than if he had said, I will never lay by this care to mind myself in anything whatsoever: I shall never with any content abide in mine own house, nor with any quiet rest in my bed, until, etc. --Arthur Jackson, 1593-1666.
Verse 3. Surely I will not come into the tabernacle of my house, etc. When lie had built himself a palace ( 1 Chronicles 15:1 ), it appears by the context, that he did not bless it (1Ch 16:43), nor consequently live in it (for that he might not do till it were blest) until he had first prepared a place, and brought up the ark to it. --Henry Hammond.
Verse 3. Surely I will not come, etc. Our translation of the verse is justified by Aben Ezra, who remarks that sa is here to be translated not in its usual sense of "if", -- "if I shall come" -- but as introducing a vow, "I will not come." This idiom, it may be observed, is more or less missed by our existing translation of Hebrews 4:5 : "And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest" -- a translation which is the more curious from the fact that the idiom in the present Psalm is hit off exactly in the preceding chapter, Hebrews 3:11 : "So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest." --H. T. Armfield.
Verse 3. I will not come into the tent which is my house. What does this singular form of expression denote? Is it "an instance of the way in which the associations of the old patriarchal tent life fixed themselves in the language of the people", as Perowne suggests? or does David deliberately select it to imply that even his palace is but a tent as compared with the Huse that he will rear for God? --Samuel Cox.
Verse 3. Nor go up into my bed. From the expression of the Psalmist it would seem that a lofty bed was not only a necessary luxury, but a sign of superior rank. This idea was very prevalent in the period of the revival of the arts on the Continent, whole the state bed, often six feet high, always stood on a dais in an alcove, richly curtained off from tile saloon. In the East the same custom still continues, and a verse in the Koran declares it to be one of the delights of the faithful in paradise that "they shall repose themselves on lofty beds" (Cap. 56, "The Inevitable"). Frequently these state beds were composed of the most costly and magnificent materials. The prophet Amos speaks of ivory beds ( Amos 6:4 ); Nero had a golden one; that of the Mogul Aurungzeebe was jewelled; and, lastly, in the privy purse expenses of our own profligate Charles II., we read of a "silver bedstead for Mrs. Gwynn." And to this day the state bedsteads in the viceregal palace at Cairo are executed in the same metal, and are supposed to have cost upwards of 3,000 pounds sterling each. --From "The Biblical Museum", 1879.
Verse 3-5. Surely I will not Come, etc. These were all types and figures of Christ, the true David, who, in his desire of raising a living temple, and an everlasting tabernacle to God, spent whole nights in prayer, and truly, neither entered his house, nor went up into his bed, nor gave slumber to his eyelids, nor rest to his temples, and presented to himself "a glorious church, not having spot, nor wrinkle, nor any such thing", nor built "with corruptible gold or silver", but with his own precious sweat and more precious blood; it was with them he built that city in heaven that was seen by St. John in the Apocalypse, and "was ornamented with all manner of precious stones." Hecen, we can all understand the amount of care, cost and labour we need to erect a becoming temple in our hearts to God. --Robert Bellarmine (1542-1621), in "A Commentary on the Book of Psalms."
Verse 3-5. This admirable zeal of this pious king condemns the indifference of those who leave the sacred places which are dependent upon their care in a condition of shameful, neglect, while they lavish all their care to make for themselves sumptuous houses. -- Pasquier Quesnel (1634-1719), dans "Les Pseaumes, avec des Reflexions," 1700.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
- We should desire a habitation for God more than for ourselves. God should have the best of everything. "See, now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwelleth within curtains."
- We should be guided by the house of God in seeking a house for ourselves: "Surely I will not come", etc.
- We should labour for the prosperity of God's house even more than of our own. Nothing should make sleep more sweet to us than when the church of God prospers; nothing keep us more awake than when it declines: "I will not give sleep", etc. ( Psalms 132:4 ); "Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your ceiled houses, and this house lie waste?" --G. R.